FOXBOROUGH — With their first exhibition game just two days away, the Patriots on Monday made several roster moves, the most notable cutting veteran quarterback Matt Flynn and signing QB Ryan Lindley.
Flynn, who had been on the non-football injury list with a hamstring injury, had not participated in camp. He was spotted the last few days — albeit in shorts — hanging with Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo during practices.
"Matt never passed his physical,'' said coach Bill Belichick, who left open the possibility of a Flynn return once he's healthy.
The Patriots needed to get another healthy signal-caller in the fold with the Packers due at Gillette Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. game Thursday.
With Brady expected to get nothing more than a cameo in that one, it was important to have somebody on the depth chart behind Garoppolo, who will get the majority of snaps.
Belichick said time was a key factor in the decision to swap out No. 3 quarterbacks.
"We don't have forever here,'' said the coach. "The train is moving."
As for a return engagement, Belichick said, "I wouldn't rule it out. We've brought back plenty of players who were here, then weren't here, then came back here. I know [Flynn] worked hard. It was frustrating he couldn't get out there.''
Lindley was a sixth-round pick of the Cardinals in 2012 — the Patriots do like those sixth-round QBs — and played two seasons in Arizona before being released in August 2014. He signed with the Chargers shortly after his release before the Cardinals plucked him off San Diego's practice squad that November.
The 6-foot-3-inch, 232-pounder has 10 games of NFL experience, including one postseason contest. He has completed 52 of 89 passes for 752 yards with a pair of touchdown passes and four interceptions.
"He's got some experience,'' Belichick said before practice. "And he's healthy, that's the most important [thing].''
Lindley didn't get a lot of reps during his first practice and showed signs of rust but he had a couple of nice completions, including one on a roll out to tight end Mason Brodine. Unfortunately, that might have been the last reception of Brodine's Patriots career — he was released after practice.
Garoppolo didn't have one of his best practices. He showed indecisiveness and had some poor throws. Twice he was pulled from 11-on-11s and headed to the adjacent field for one-on-one instructions with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
McDaniels was animated during the first session, though it wasn't a heated exchange.
On Garoppolo's first series back, he went 3 for 3, completing passes to James White, Brandon Gibson, and Jonathan Krause. Safety Tavon Wilson probably could have intercepted (or leveled Krause) had he not pulled up on the third pass.
The second chat with McDaniels seemed more like a tutorial than an admonishing session.
Several players returned to action, including receivers Julian Edelman, who had been out for more than a week, and Brian Tyms, who went down with an apparent arm injury last week.
Though he was in full pads, Edelman left shortly after the team's wind sprints and headed to the lower field, where he could be seen doing conditioning drills.
Tyms wore a red non-contact jersey but was a full participant.
"The red thing was more of a swagger,'' said Tyms, who had matching red tights under his pants. "They were like, 'Hey, what color jersey you want to wear?' and I was like, 'red.' ''
Tyms was asked to describe what happened on the play on which he was injured.
"I don't know . . . it hurt,'' said the always smiling Tyms. "I was very upset [about missing time] but you only control what you can control.''
Also spotted was defensive lineman Alan Branch (who had been absent for non-injury reasons but followed the same routine as Edelman) and receiver/special teams demon Matthew Slater (shoulder).
Rookie first-round pick Malcom Brown, who missed Saturday's practice, returned to the field.
Rookie linebacker Matthew Wells, a sixth-round pick, was traded to the Bears in exchange for guard Ryan Groy. The deal was on the NFL transaction wire Monday afternoon, though neither club would confirm it.
Wells, out of Mississippi State, was having a solid camp. Groy, a 6-5, 320-pounder, was an undrafted free agent in 2014 out of Wisconsin, where he blocked for current Patriots back James White. He was primarily a practice squad player in Chicago last season.
Mystery man revealed
A new running back joined the fold but it was a mystery to most as No. 25 in white went through the paces, getting several reps. Only after practice did the Patriots reveal it was Tony Creecy, an undrafted free agent out of North Carolina State. The 6-foot, 200-pounder rushed for 1,265 yards and caught 75 passes in four seasons for the Wolfpack. The Patriots are down several backs with LeGarrette Blount, Travaris Cadet, Tyler Gaffney, and Dion Lewis all out with injuries . . . The Patriots signed tight end Logan Stokes as the corresponding move for Brodine. Stokes was signed as a rookie free agent out of LSU by the Patriots on June 11 and released a week later. The 6-5, 255-pounder is primarily a blocker . . . Additionally, linebacker Chris White, who was on the PUP list, was released. White had been a Patriot for two years and last season played in 13 games, collecting nine special teams tackles . . . Brown got the crowd excited by blasting through the line and making a thunderous block on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal attempt. The play looked impressive until Jabaal Sheard collected blocks on the next two snaps and it became evident that the blocks were part of a drill, in which the offensive linemen weren't giving it their all. The drill is intended to make the snapper, holder, and kicker increase their speed . . . Former New England fullback Heath Evans, who in his job as an analyst with the NFL Network predicted the Bills will start the season 9-0 and win the AFC East, was spotted at practice wearing a Patriots cap.
Jim McBride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.